SpaceX today posted a video of its Falcon 9’s short flight on Saturday, the first attempt after multiple delays. The rocket had a successful launch from the autonomous ocean platform, though the same can’t be said for the landing.
The company had previously said it wasn’t expecting success on its first attempt at retrieving its booster for reuse, and we’re frankly not surprised given the Vine that was posted. It was given a very appropriate title: “Close, but no cigar.”
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted on Saturday that the rocket landed too hard, but it wasn’t clear what exactly had occurred, until now. Musk has been quite candid about the whole event, tweeting last night that “impact video frames from drone ship” were recovered and are just “begging to be released.”
Earlier today he followed up with (the rocket’s guiding fins had enough fluid to operate for four minutes, but ran out just prior to landing):
Next rocket landing on drone ship in 2 to 3 weeks w way more hydraulic fluid. At least it shd explode for a diff reason.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 16, 2015
In other words, failure is perfectly acceptable, as long as progress is being made. That’s exactly what makes science so beautiful.
This footage will undoubtedly be analyzed by everyone from science geeks to engineers, though we’re going to reserve judgment. SpaceX has all the information, and their investigation is still ongoing – it’s not clear if more details will be released, but this will undoubtedly be a learning experience.
Although the rocket, hitting the ground at an approximately 45-degree angle, was clearly blown to smithereens, the drone ship suffered minor damage, and SpaceX will be able to try again. The next launch’s target date is set for January 29, but given what happened and Musk’s timeframe, it could very well be pushed back again.